At around 7:00 pm on October 6th, I received consecutive news of the murder of Mr. Bindroo in Srinagar. After the initial reaction of shock and awe, I wrote my friend a message saying, “This is not surprising. We were always on target. ”While we were still processing the news from the previous evening, we read from two teachers on October 7th – terrorists checked their IDs and shot them as religious minorities in Kashmir. These scary incidents cannot be dismissed as purely legal and regulatory issues.
Anxiety psychosis, from which my generation was to some extent free, has begun to haunt us. The hope and belief that we had for a future in our homeland are drowning again. But why exactly are we talking about this fear in 2021? How has it accelerated so that Kashmiri pandits have to pack up and leave for safer cities at midnight? Is it January 19, 1990?
The birth of “Naya Kashmir” after August 5th, 2019 was celebrated across India. With a few skirmishes regarding the communication blockade and later the pandemic, tourism in the valley was robust this year. People I know traveled back to their homeland on “vacation” and were welcomed by the locals. However, some were astutely told: “Keep coming back as tourists”. Just a quick reminder – in the 1980s the locals said, “Don’t spend so much money building your house; it will come to us at some point ”.
Nothing has changed on site. At the time of the exodus in 1990, local terrorists targeted our community, and in 2021, as the radicalization has increased over the past three decades, this has resulted in the same situation. Suffice it to say that it is not fair to call everyone sympathetic to terrorism, but if the “silent majority” chooses to look the other way at such incessant murders, it will certainly raise questions.
We have been fed the delusional definition of “Kashmiriyat” for decades. So far, no one has been able to decipher its meaning. Terrorist sympathizers who pose as soft separatists, politicians, activists and even journalists have been extolled over time and taken seriously as the voice of Kashmir. These people shared the same opinion that the ISI has spoken for decades. It has only brought sheer destruction to the entire region. Yes, the majority are indeed victims of terrorism, but the selective killing of religious minorities on charges of “demographic change” is deliberate and with the help of the locals.
The official announcement from TRF, a terrorist organization that has taken responsibility for attacks, speaks categorically of non-resident owners, henchmen (RSS), collaborators (intelligence agencies) and says that everyone would be targeted against the fight in Kashmir. Compare this announcement to what the NC / PDP official spokesperson and its leaders have been saying since 2019. There is no difference. In the past two days, our social media timeline has been flooded with so many xenophobic, bigoted comments in which locals refer to minorities as sanghis, henchmen and settlers that it becomes crystal clear to blame Pakistan and the Taliban for the mess , the situation in Kashmir would not be possible without local support.
Over time, the media, academics and civil society have legitimized the “battle for Kashmir” so much that the names of the Kashmiri Pandits do not even come into the normal discourse. The same clique whitewashed our exodus and shielded terrorists in the name of the struggle for freedom. Even today they are referred to as “alleged gunmen” and “alleged attackers”. What do we achieve with it? The veiling scenario created by the same clique is responsible for the tragedy that hits us.
We are the preferred political pawns of politicians who toss us from one election platform to another with the banal charade of rehabilitation. Even if we assume the government’s “efforts”, the reality on the ground is different. Kashmiri pandits are not welcome there. The sooner we start to accept the radicalization of youth and the role of deep state and terror modules in Kashmir, the sooner we can truly expect peace. To do this, diabolical minds who occasionally “tell the truth to power” have to shed radicalized thinking and accept the ugly truth of Islamic terrorism.
As for pandits, our decision to hold pen over guns can never make us dependent on others. The state and the judiciary abandoned us in 1990, and today, without a whimper of condemnation and security or even warning to minorities, the old feeling is coming back. The shoddy assurances wouldn’t mean anything unless reality changes. Our indignation and anger will subside over time as we know what helplessness means. The dream of returning home could soon fizzle out.
(Srishti Kaul, a Kashmiri pundit, lives in Jammu and is an educator)
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